Will Europe pass the acid test?
“Europe is currently undergoing a crucial historical phase and challenge, making it more important than ever to strengthen democratic structures and promote civil-society engagement,” said the Belgrade-born political scientist Ivan Vejvoda. A long-time member of ERSTE Foundation’s Advisory Board and newly appointed Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, he is convinced that the tradition and many years’ experience of both institutions in analysing and supporting democratic political and social developments provide the ideal foundation for this endeavour. In addition to awarding research fellowships, the aim is to encourage dialogue, research and policy exchange with partner European individuals and institutions and importantly also beyond the borders of Europe. New forums are to be added to established discussion formats such as the Vienna Seminars, Berlin Process and Debating Europe.
In his previous position as Senior Vice President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington, Vejvoda gained a reputation as an experienced programme director. Before that, he headed the GMF’s Balkan Trust Democracy project, which is dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions in South Eastern Europe. He was senior advisor on foreign policy and European integration to Serbian Prime Ministers Zoran Đinđić and Zoran Živković and a key figure in the Yugoslavian opposition movement of the 1990s.
The Institute for Human Sciences, or IWM, is an independent institute for advanced study in the humanities and social sciences. Since its foundation 35 years ago, it has been instrumental in promoting intellectual exchange between East and West, between academia and society, and between a variety of disciplines and schools of thought. The core team of Permanent Fellows includes – along with Ivan Vejvoda – Rector Shalini Randeria (Social Anthropology/Sociology), Timothy Snyder (History), Ivan Krastev (Political Science), Charles Taylor (Philosophy), János Mátyás Kovács (History of Economic Thought) and Miloš Vec (Legal History).
In 2003, ERSTE Foundation evolved out of the Erste Österreichische Spar-Casse, the first Austrian savings bank. Currently, it is the main shareholder of Erste Group. The foundation invests part of its dividends in strengthening civil society in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, the inclusion of socially disadvantaged groups and support for contemporary and socially engaged art. Through its focus on Europe, ERSTE Foundation aims to form alliances, work on concepts and solutions for current challenges, support awareness raising and knowledge creation for responsible and active citizens, enabling them to stand for and support liberal, democratic values and European cohesion.
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